Sydney Kings coach Chase Buford said he brought Jaylen Adams to the NBL expecting he would win MVP in his first season.
On Wednesday evening, the NBL announced that Buford’s expectation had become a reality: Adams (105 votes) beat Perth Wildcats superstar Bryce Cotton (94) and Melbourne United big man Jo Lual-Acuil (62) to claim the league’s most coveted individual honor.
It capped off what was a remarkable campaign for the American King, who is now ready to guide Sydney through the play-offs.
Watch Every Game of the 21/22 NBL Finals Live & Free with ESPN on Kayo Freebies. Sign up for Kayo Freebies now, no credit card required>
After shaking off a troublesome ankle injury, Adams quickly proved himself as the Kings’ on-court mastermind in NBL22.
He finished the regular season as the league’s leader in assists and became an overnight fan favorite for his ability to save the day under pressure.
But Adams’ heroics have not come as a surprise to his coach.
Buford also coached Adams at the Wisconsin Herd, where he came within an inch of winning the G League’s MVP award in the 2019-20 season.
“When he came down here we did not talk about it much, but I told him that’s what I expected of him, to come down here and be the MVP because that’s what I thought he was capable of,” Buford said.
“He’s certainly delivered on that.”
Adams said it was a “tremendous honor” to have been named MVP.
“It’s something I came out here with as a quiet goal,” he said.
“I’m thankful for my coach, the front office and the ownership for bringing me here, the fans for their love all season and my teammates.
“It’s a special accomplishment (to be named MVP) and I could not be happier about it, but now I’m ready to get to these finals.”
Adams confirmed he had shaken off the illness that kept him out of the Kings’ last two games of the regular season.
He is set to line up in the Kings’ first game of the play-offs on Friday, to be played against Illawarra Hawks.
“I’m feeling good,” he said.
“I’m working back into that game flow, that game rhythm, all week in practice.
“I know how important this game is, I’m going to be prepared for it.”
Buford said the Kings were raring to be unleashed on their most bitter rivals.
“It’s an opportunity for our team to come out and show what we’ve worked so hard for all year, show what we’s capable of doing,” Buford said.
“To do it against a great opponent like Illawarra, we’re really fired up.”
NBL AWARD WINNERS
Coach of the Year: Scott Roth (Tasmania JackJumpers)
MVP Fans: Kai Sotto (Adelaide 36ers)
Executive of the Year: Simon Edwards (New Zealand Breakers)
Rookie of the Year: Bul Kuol (Cairns Taipans)
All-NBL First Team: Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats), Jaylen Adams (Sydney Kings), Antonius Cleveland (Illawarra Hawks), Vic Law (Perth Wildcats), Jo Lual-Acuil Jr (Melbourne United)
All-NBL Second Team: Matthew Dellavedova (Melbourne United), Josh Adams (Tasmania JackJumpers), Chris Goulding (Melbourne United), Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne Phoenix), Xavier Cooks (Sydney Kings)
Best Sixth Man: Shea Ili (Melbourne United)
Most Improved Player: Keanu Pinder (Cairns Taipans)
Best Defensive Player: Antonius Cleveland (Illawarra Hawks)